Shannon & Julie’s Adventure in Iceland

June 12, 2013 by darren

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We just returned from our first mother-daughter trip since the kids were born!  It was wonderful to have some time away and have a fun adventure!

Iceland was Julie’s idea as it is a land of natural wonders.  We went with a tour group of 20 and had a great time.  Our group was fun to travel with.  I think one woman was younger than Julie and the oldest was 87 years old!  One couple in our group was from Loveland!  They live only a ½ mile from us!  It is a small world.  They gave us a ride home from the airport which was great.

We flew into the capitol of Reykjavik and stayed there two nights.  Iceland is 6 hours ahead of Colorado so we were quite tired when we flew through the night and got there in the morning to tour!  We were greeted by a cold driving rain.  Yuck!  It was cold enough that most of the pictures of us are wearing our stocking hats and rain gear!

Our first day we went on a rainy walking tour of the city.  The architecture is very interesting.  There is anything from 200 year old homes to very modern buildings.  They even had and IKEA!  Ha.  I was surprised since the whole country only has 315K people there.  Our meal that night was a fish buffet.  Wonderful for most, but not my favorite!  They even served whale! :(

The next day we got out of the city and got to experience the wide open country side.  Sixty percent of the people live around Reykjavik, so the rest of the country is very open.  There are many mountains which I didn’t expect.  Lots of the landscape is covered with lava and moss.  It is a very dramatic looking place.

Unfortunately it kept raining the next day while we visited Thingvellir.  That is where the Vikings used to meet to have a type of Parliament.  It was amazing looking with a large wall of black lava that served as an amphitheater for the thousands that gathered.  It also is where tectonic plates meet that form Europe and America.  So we stood in two continents at once!

Next we drove to Geysir.  Thank goodness it stopped raining finally!  We were grateful to have only cold and wind!  Geysir was the first one named that and all other geysers are named after it!  (Liam had told me this before we left!)  Of course due to an earthquake a few years ago it no longer erupts.  But another one does and is neat as it erupts every 6 minutes!  (In the video it erupts at about 1:10)

Next we stopped at Gulfoss.  It is an enormous waterfall that rivals Niagara (without all the casinos and hotels!)  It was spectacular.

The following day we traveled north out of town to the Snaefellsnes  Peninsula.  Our bus broke down and we were stuck at a bus stop for 2 ½ hours!  But everyone stayed in good spirits and we pressed on to a cute little fishing village named Grundarfjordur.  From there we took a boat out to see a tiny island that is a bird preserve.

We searched awhile and finally saw about 5 puffins in the water and air.  They were really cute.  I was disappointed though as I thought we would get to be closer to them and on land!  Oh well.  It was quite hard to take photos of them from the boat!

After the island the boat took us further out to go fishing.  I didn’t fish, but mom did.  She caught a huge one!  It was about 11 lbs. they estimate!  It was quite heavy for her to pull up into the boat.  It was amazing as the fish were really biting and our group caught about a dozen in a short time.

The next day we stopped and tried the national dish- cured shark.  And yes, I tried it!  A very tiny bit.  It tasted like fat off of meat.  Apparently if you eat it without curing it, it is poisonous, but if you cure it is fine!  Curing is a six month process of drying it outside mostly.

We then went to the home of Eric the Red (who discovered Greenland) and his son, Leif the Lucky or as we know him, Leif Erickson (who landed in America in 1,000 A.D.).  I enjoyed the presentation of a guy pretending to be Eric the Red.  He was hilarious.  Icelanders are an interesting group and have a fun, dry sense of humor.  I liked them and enjoyed our experiences with the locals.

This was our longest day as we drove to the top of the Island to Akureyri where we stayed for two nights.  It is a city of 20K people.  There aren’t many straight roads, so it is not fast traveling through the country.  The city was quite pretty.  It was surrounded by mountains and on a fjord.

The next day Julie went for what might be her final horseback ride!  We went on Icelandic horses.  They are purebreds from the same horses the Vikings brought here over 1,000 years ago.  They are small and friendly horses and are beautiful.

Julie got a horse called Biting.  I’m not kidding.  They told me it meant something else, but I don’t believe them!  She was a feisty horse with a mind of her own.  She wandered and ate and was not very fun to ride.  My hips also were in a lot of pain riding.  I have thought that I have not been sitting correctly when riding on previous trips, but I think the arthritis in my hips will just make any riding too painful in the future.  It is too bad- I like horses.

So when were about halfway done with the ride Julie was in a lot of pain so I asked one of the guides if I could get off my horse and walk the rest of the way.  They discouraged me from that so I kept trying.  Then my horse decided to start jogging down two hills, and I got flustered when she about threw me off!  I stopped her and got off!  So I walked a mile or two while the rest rode on.  I was much happier walking and got much better photos!  Ha.  I’m sure Biting was happier as well. :)

That afternoon we had free so mom explored the town while I went looking for a bird sanctuary.  I ended up walking about 10 kilometers or so!  I was quite tired after that!  It was a lovely estuary and tons of birds, so I had a great time.  It was very peaceful.  I did not like when the Arctic Turns starting dive bombing me!  It was like a scene from “The Birds” and had me worried for a bit!

The next morning we had a nice flight back to Reykjavik and went straight to the Blue Lagoon.  It is an amazing geothermal pool that is beautiful.  Ironically it is water that is runoff from the geothermal power plant!  It is all safe and good for the skin.  It was a truly unique place with lava rocks surrounding the pools.

The final day for our group mom and I split up.  She went deep sea fishing and caught another fish.  They also saw more puffins.  Sigh.  I went hiking in a lava cave!  It was quite an adventure.  The cave was a hole in the ground.  They gave us a flashlight and helmet and we climbed down into the cave!  It was stark and cold.

In many places we had to stoop over- we were rarely standing up.  In a couple we had to crawl and one was only 51cm tall!  We had to either army crawl or roll to get through!  I did ok considering I am a little claustrophobic.  The 87 year old in our group did this hike as well!

Our final day, mom and I took a city bus (an adventure!) to a peninsula with a lighthouse where I hoped to see more birds.  We did see a few although the lighthouse was closed for the nesting birds.  We walked on the black sand beach and saw a golf course.  I had wanted to see what golf was like there, so we checked it out.  It was a pretty nine hole course next to the water.  I was surprised at how many women and kids were playing!  The course is known for their Arctic Turns and they chased us again!

We had a great time.  I was able to talk on the phone often to Darren which made me feel better to know how the kids were doing.  It sounded like they were doing pretty well, so that was reassuring.  It was also fun to Skype once with the kids.  Zoe was so excited to see us that she waved and waved!

I was most grateful that Darren was willing to watch the kids for the nine days we were gone.  That is the most I have been away from the kids ever!  It was very relaxing and nice to do stuff without worrying about them.  I didn’t miss them as much as I thought I would have, but maybe that was because they have been kind of difficult lately!  Ha.

We also got to see Greenland from the airplane!  We enjoyed the trip enough that we hope to return someday! – Julie

We got home safely, but were met by two sick kids!  Sigh, back to reality.

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